My Unexpected Love Affair with Medan

Medan, Indonesia.

I never meant to fall in love with you. I didn’t expect it at all. I never had any expectations when I first stepped my feet in your grounds. All I wanted then was to experience more of God in a different land. But you gave me more than I expected–definitely a lot than I ever prayed for.

We arrived at Medan morning of October 15. I didn’t have much expectation of the place because I was told that it’s just like Manila. But I must admit that the city has surprised me in many ways.

The Airport.





The streets and some sights.









Maimoon Palace

Maimoon Palace


For our entire stay in the city, we were booked at Danau Toba International Hotel. It is a 5-star hotel located in the heart of Medan. The hotel is conveniently located just 5-10 minutes walk to shopping places like Sun Plaza and 15-minutes drive to Cambridge Plaza. We booked two rooms in the hotel–one for our guy friend and one for us 3 girls.


This room served as our official home for our two-weeks stay in Medan.  And yes, this room was witness to the fun moments I had with our team, the heartfelt talks, the sharing of thoughts and opinions, the once-in-a-while not-so-heated arguments which we were able to give peaceful resolutions to at the end of the day. This room was also witness to the happy moments we’ve spent with some of our Indonesian friends whom we grew so fond with.


Universitas Sumatera Utara.

One of the largest universities in the city of Medan. Almost everyday of our stay in the city were spent in this university. This humble university welcomed us and made us feel very much at home. I will never forget the times we’ve spent at Perpustakaan Universitas (University Library)–meeting different students and making friends with most of them, sharing stories, playing UNO cards, and eating with them. Although I’m not really fond of spicy foods, the joy of eating with these students surpassed that pungent taste.





Kantin Mahira.

This canteen located within USU is not really extraordinary of sort. But this place holds a special place in my heart. This place saw how friendships were built between people from different beliefs and origins. It was a silent witness to deep, heartfelt, and hearty conversations we had with our Indonesian friends. This was also the very place where I first had my taste of TEH BOTOL—a famous Indonesian drink which I didn’t like at first but eventually learned to love and crave for. Kantin Mahira may just be your usual school canteen but for me, it was made extra special because of the memories created here–the people, the moments.








My favorite! Teh Botol!


Medan left me very special memories of the places I’ve been to when I was there–Sun Plaza, Cambridge Plaza, Aviation School, 061 Bistro, Maimoon Palace, Waroek Nenek, Kopi Ong, Coffee Cankir, Coffee Box, the A&W near USU, the Feng Huang Spa, Hermes Plaza, the restaurant where we ate Kwetiaw, Koki Sunda, Waringin, and of course, Solaria and Carrefour. I could still vividly recall the special moments created in every places mentioned and those moments were like my happy pills during my time of reminiscing.





And how will I ever forget my Koro-Koro experience in Happy Puppy? Koro-Koro is Indonesia’s term for videoke/karaoke. Along with our Indonesian friends, our team sang to our heart’s content to the songs of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, The Script, Bruno Mars, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Christian Bautista, and many others. We even sang Regine Velasquez’s Pangako and our Indonesian friends sang some of their local songs, too.




My Medan, Indonesia experience was definitely beyond compare. It was two wonderful weeks that I will never ever forget. I am grateful beyond words to Father God for allowing me to experience this overwhelming adventure. And yes, I was able to really encounter Him in that city more than I ever imagined. My sojourn  in this city may be quick but I could say it was experience-full. I learned a lot of things through this journey that I am certain to keep forever with me. I discovered things about myself which I never thought I have. I battled with fears, insecurities and anxieties but through the grace of God, I won over all of them. I welcomed the differences in every person and embraced the truth about individuality. And yes, I believe that this journey to Medan has made me an even better person than what I was before I stepped my feet on this city’s grounds.

I have to thank the people who have been instrumental in making this Medan experience a really awesome and unforgettable one. These people have caused a different kind of stir in my heart and in my life.

I will forever be grateful to the special people who served as our mentors while we were in Medan. These people carefully guided us on the various things we needed to do while in the city. All our special moments together, the random talks and sharing that really encouraged us, and all the hearty laughs we shared—I will certainly keep them locked in my heart forever. You never know how much you’ve inspired and encouraged me and my friends. If there’s a word that weighs more than THANK YOU, that would be my word for you guys.


This whole Medan episode in my life wouldn’t be that unforgettable and remarkable if I haven’t met these Indonesians and became friends with them. You made me believe that even people with different beliefs, customs, and values could really be friends. Thank you for welcoming us in your city and for making us feel like very much at home. Thank you for all your ready smiles, the laughs at our jokes, the amused and fascinated look every time I talk about something ridiculous, the interest in my Korean stars fascination, your attentiveness whenever I am in the mood to talk about serious stuff on life and love. Thank you for always making time to meet us and spend time with us despite your busy university schedules. Thank you for the wonderful friendship you offered to me and my friends.















To the four students whom we got to spent a big chunk of time while in Medan–Dina, Fanny, Ingrid and Nova–Thank you! You keep telling us that we made a big impact in your lives, but really, it was you who created a lasting impression in our hearts. Thank you for all the times you spent with us, assisting us, bringing us to different places and letting us experience riding an Angkot. You might not be aware of it but all four of you have inspired us in many ways. Your unpretentious and humble heart to really know more about God is just so overwhelming. We’re as excited to see you soaring higher with Him. Thank you for being our younger sisters while we were in Medan. All the moments we’ve spent together are kept in my jar of happy pills. Whenever I think of Medan, your faces always flash in my memory. I will always remember each of your laughs, your distinct characters, and all the special moments I’ve spent with each of you. Thank you for introducing me to Teh Botol and Solaria, for giving a new meaning to “Impartation,” and for bringing me to Carrefour 🙂 Each of you has a special place in my heart ;). And thank you for making us feel special, too 🙂









Medan is just a regular city to me until you all became my friends. You made me look at this city in a different light and love it even more. Terima Kasih! Thank you for never making us feel like a foreigner in a foreign land.  I will never ever forget all of you 🙂







Jeff Goins wrote:

“Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a new-found respect for pain and suffering….While you’re still young, get cultured. Get to know the world and the magnificent people that fill it. The world is a stunning place, full of outstanding works of art. See it.”

With conviction, I would say my life is never the same again after Medan. Yes, it may seem like a simple travel to another country for some, but it left a significant mark in my life. I may walk the same road again but I know in my heart that  I will look at that same road in a different light now. 

My unending gratefulness goes out to all the people who allowed themselves to be used by God and be instruments for this remarkable journey. You never know how much your YES meant so much to me and for this trip 😉

And for the people whom I spent almost 14 days with (or maybe more than since we’ve had weekly meetings before Medan)—the H.A.R.D team–I am just so happy that God put all of us together in one team. We may have differences, we may had moments when we couldn’t stand each other, but I know I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I couldn’t imagine myself going to Medan with a different set of people. Thank you for letting me be myself with you and for accepting me for who I am. All our talks, our sharings–they all meant so much to me. I am glad to get to know more the other side of each and everyone of you while we were in Medan. Thank you for the friendship 🙂 And indeed, it’s Medan and beyond 😉


From all of us in the team: Terima kasih! Sampai kita bertemu lagi.

(Playing Anna Kendrick’s “When I’m Gone” while writing this piece 🙂


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